Division – Is it anathema?
Lately, I’ve been asked – why do you write controversial posts; why do you sign, or worse, even write statements? After all, you know your voice is coming from the margins of your community. You know your views won’t be accepted; they’ll be misunderstood, opposed, attacked. And, worst of all, you will be causing division. That last statement is always meant to be the clincher in the discussion. Who wants to be accused of causing division? With so much talk of “unity” these days, “division” has become an unacceptable word. It’s being used to marginalize, delegitimize and silence dissenting voices that would dare oppose the prevailing opinions and beliefs of the mainstream majority.
Of course, I do not wish to cause division. Like everyone else, I like to be accepted. Division is messy, uncomfortable and even painful. But is it sin? Is it anathema within the body of Messiah? On the surface, yes is the facile answer. A deeper look, however, gives a different perspective. Wasn’t it Yeshua himself who said he came to “divide?” Didn’t his statements cause people to condemn him, leave him, and ultimately crucify him? No, I’m not calling myself the Messiah, but I am identifying with Him in sometimes taking an unpopular, unaccepted stand on issues of life, faith, ethics, and morality.
I find myself deeply challenged by the Lord’s words in Matthew 10:34 –
“Ye may not suppose that I came to put peace on the earth; I did not come to put peace, but a sword; for I came to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and the enemies of a man are those of his household. He who is loving father or mother above me, is not worthy of me, and he who is loving son or daughter above me, is not worthy of me, and whoever doth not receive his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He who found his life shall lose it, and he who lost his life for my sake shall find it.”
Luke’s version (Luke 12:49-57) of these statements is sandwiched between warnings to be watchful and prepared; and directives to be discerning of the times and seasons in which we live. For us in Israel and Palestine, it is becoming increasingly important that we too are watchful and aware and that we know the times and seasons. This is not only a spiritual quest but is meant to be grounded in the reality of life “on the ground.” Here again are Yeshua’s words, this time as Luke remembered them:
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”
There is a place for division, for “rightly dividing the word of truth” for “judging what is right” for loving Him more than our families and our lives, for raising our voices, and for sometimes living our lives on the margins in the place of the politically incorrect. For me, remaining silent is no longer an option. Rightly dividing means we see more than one view, bringing perspective and clarity to the complexity of the times and seasons of our world and our lives. In my vocabulary, division is not a dirty word.